Struggling to manage illness and PhD supervisor

04-Jun-18, 11:40
edited about 10 seconds later
by GiGi
Avatar for GiGi
posted about 11 months ago
Last year I took time off due to illness, and I had many issues with my supervisor when I returned (I posted on this forum in December). I was on the verge on quitting, but after advice here I decided to keep going and finish my work early (my funding ends November 2019, I hope to be finished lab work by Dec 2018). I was able to keep some distance from my supervisor, and was feeling good about getting to the end.

Unfortunately I've been having more health issues in the last couple of months, I'm back and forward to the doctors and on waiting list to see a specialist, but it's likely that I'll be waiting a while before I get a diagnosis /treatment (at least one month after three months on the list). I'm struggling with fatigue and stomach issues which are made worse by stress. I want to keep going at work and my doctor is happy for me to do so in a flexible way.

I have tried to be open with my supervisor but it has been difficult. She has been focusing on the negative side and is not supportive of my plans to finish my PhD early. I asked my doctor to write her a letter hoping that this would help, and at first she seemed to be supportive, suggesting I could work from home and do half days. However in the last week everything has become really bad again. I've had several emails from her questioning my ability to get things done and last week she pushed me into disclosing my health issues to our group.

I met with the head of postgraduate studies, and he advised me to set up a meeting to discuss my concerns. I emailed to do this, trying to address some concerns in the meantime, and I have received a long, confrontational reply suggesting I am being too sensitive and basically questioning all of my decisions. I'm really unsure about what to do, I feel very uncomfortable about our meeting tomorrow.
04-Jun-18, 19:28
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 11 months ago
I'm not surprised you don't feel comfortable. Some of this sounds horrendous. It sounds like you know your own mind though (thank goodness). I hope someone here can offer you some advice.
05-Jun-18, 19:01
by Pursue
Avatar for Pursue
posted about 11 months ago
All the best, pray for the best outcome!
07-Jun-18, 12:26
by Karmah
Avatar for Karmah
posted about 11 months ago
Dear GiGi,

I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of this. It's unfortunate that your supervisor can't understand what you're going through. My suggestion is to do what you're doing without compromising on your health, submit your thesis as soon as you can (since you say that your lab work will be done by Dec 2018) and move on.

Good luck to you and hope you get well soon.
09-Jun-18, 19:55
edited about 13 seconds later
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 11 months ago
I have had some slightly similar experience in having serious medical and personal issues mismanaged by people that just dont get it. My advice would be to go higher up, such as to your funding body or various leads at your uni. Perhaps apply for sick leave? As it seems that unless it is made official your supervisor is just deciding to make a diagnosis for you, which is ridiculous.


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